Ghanaweb and Myjoyonline reported a story on their websites on March 18, 2009. Basically, the story was the same but the headlines were different. Myjoyonline had “Mills: I am the President whether you like it or not” and Ghanaweb decided on “Mills talks tough, cautions against distraction.”
Reading through the story, the impression one gets is that the President was apparently responding to “…some media practitioners and commentators” who had criticized the work of the Transitional Team. The President was supposedly also hitting back at the Minority in Parliament for daring to use the phrase “...we will advise ourselves.”
To quote the President directly, “There is no other government in this country. There is no other president in this country…where you have people arrogate to themselves certain rights. Where people threaten that they are going to advise themselves and take the law into their own hands, I Atta Mills will not allow this to happen.” He continued; “I respect civility and politeness and I believe that people have taken my respect for peaceful co-existence as weakness, timidity and inability to act”.
I don't know about you, dear reader, but I have had a hard time figuring out what exactly is going on with our President.
For the President's information, everybody in Ghana knows who the president is (YOU, Prof. ATTA MILLS) and that the government is an NDC one. Even those who did not vote for you know this, Mr. President!! What seems unclear to many people is who is in charge (REALLY, REALLY IN CHARGE). And judging from your reactionary statements, I have no doubt in my mind that you, Mr. President, have also wondered same. If you have J.J. Rawlings breathing down your neck every second, shouting out orders to you from the Airport through the media, why wouldn't you take advantage of any opportunity to lash out at your critiques and attempt to reassure the people of Ghana that you are in charge. Again, if you are in charge, how do you explain the numerous cases of 'lawlessness' that have characterized these early months of your administration that you seem to know nothing about? Or do you?
Is it part of the strategy to allow your “goons” to run amok and do whatever they like, then feign innocence at these occurrences, and dispatch your spokesman to go on air and 'apologize' and 'spin' his way out of any situation?
The more I thought about the whole thing the more I became convinced that the entire Castle episode was not just for Ghanaians. In fact it was more for the President himself than for anybody else. He made those statements to reassure himself that he was still President and that he still had some 'muscles to flex' around if he so decided to.
It was Margaret Thatcher who said “Being powerful is just like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren't.” I will borrow Thatcher's quote and replace the word 'powerful' with 'in charge', so here goes: Being in charge is just like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren't!!! It is as simple as that.
If the president found it necessary to inform us that he is the president and that he is in charge then there is something wrong somewhere. Period!!!
Now let me address what the Minority is purported to have said and for which Mahama Ayariga, the presidential spokesman, describes as amounting “...to usurping the authority of the institutions of state …” On the same subject, the President is quoted thus “….when you have a situation where people decide that they have a divine right to rule, where the people decide that the law should be twisted in their favour, I, Atta Mills, will not accept this.” When Atta Mills says his victory was a verdict of the electorate and so all Ghanaians must accept it, my question to him is did he ever accept the 2004 presidential election? If I remember correctly, as recent as December, 2008 he was still challenging the results of that particular election. Now he wants everybody to accept his??? In any case what or who gave him the impression that his presidency was not legitimate?
The president also mentioned that some people think they have the divine right to rule, so let's see who the possible 'culprit(s) could be: Atta Mills was vice-president, after which he ran for the presidency. He failed at the first attempt but went for a second try and then a third. Now if you don't have, somewhere in your brain or ego, the idea that somehow you are the 'One' and that you have some divine right to rule, why else would you spend all these years just trying to be president??
'We will advice ourselves' This has become part of the Ghanaian lexicon. Taxi drivers use it when they complain about perceived police brutalities; Ghana Medical Association uses it when they issue an ultimatum to the government to push for salary increases; what about NUGS, GNAT and Civil Servants in general. Even the NDC has had occasions to use this very phrase. Those who care to can go through NDC Press Releases from 2000 to date and draw their own conclusions. So I asked, why is the president suddenly behaving like he's hearing this for the first time in his entire life. In any case what was the Minority's point?
The Minority forms part of the legislative branch of our government. When they think they have enough cause (perceived or otherwise) to believe that their supporters are being harassed unnecessarily, and they present their grievances openly (this was not done in some secret place), is that the best response the President of the country could offer??? Couldn't he have, at least, promised to look into those alleged harassment? Is the president suggesting that complaints from the Minority in Parliament do not warrant any serious attention?
Is this what he meant by being the 'father' of all?? What about “respect for peaceful co-existence”? For me, the president's response was petty, way too petty, even for the NDC!!!! He has more advisors than he needs and so he definitely does not need me, but I would suggest this to him: He should avoid being caught up in the NDC's “buga buga” mentality.
There's civility and there's being on top of one's job. I would expect him to man up and take responsibility for the many 'false starts' of his administration and do something about them He should call his “goons” to order and stop this exercise of shifting blame unto political opponents; and distracting himself from his own agenda.
Did somebody change the laws of Ghana without the knowledge of some of us?
What is this I hear from the Ga-Dangme youth? They claim the acquisition of an office building by the ex-president in Accra “...is yet another attempt to pilfer what is rightfully theirs.” Now I need somebody to explain to me how that is. Did the Ga-Dangme youth put up that office building? Or does government property in Accra belong to the Ga-Dangme youth? Are they saying that the youth of Western region can lay claim to any government property just by the sheer fact such property is in the Western region?
A spokesman told JOY FM that they would not “…allow one inch of Ga-Dangme lands to be stolen by anyone under the guise of the government of Ghana.” This is childish!!! How can the occupation of an office building (government property) in Accra, by the ex-president, amount to Ga-Dangme lands being stolen?? I am Ga myself but this is certainly not the way to go, my people!!!!
When the Atta Mills administration had an opportunity to comment on this unfortunate situation, they did not have one word of caution for the Ga-Dangme youth but instead told the whole world that the ex-president occupied the office building before he wrote to the administration to seek clearance. The Atta Mills government could not warn the Ga-Dangme youth against any acts of lawlessness???? Unbelievable!!!!
And the Koku Anyidohos and Mahama Ayarigas also had nothing to say about the claims of the Ga-Dangme youth??? By the way, did the Ga-Dangme youth take similar action when former president J.K. Rawlings was given 2 houses to use as his residence and office? Were those buildings not government property and were they not in Accra?
I detect something more sinister and I think we will all be better off if the Atta Mills government calls this youth group to order!!!
If the president wants to reassure us of his total control, this is one test for him to deal and deal effectively with. After all he was a professor of law and he cannot do any less than enforcing the constitution for all. For those who claim to be Christians, they should know that it is the Lord who lifts up one man and puts the other down and it is the same Lord who says a fall always awaits the proud. I will conclude by restating my earlier quote: that “Being in charge is just like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren't.” A word to the wise is “way down south”!!!!!
Written by Yaw Opare-Asamoa
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